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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Apr 23, 2011 9:56am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

"To receive permission to perform his first-ever concerts in China last week, the 'raspy troubadour of '60s freedom anthems' agreed to submit a list of songs he planned to perform to the Chinese Ministry of Culture."

Missing from his set lists: "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

I have to say that I'm really disappointed. My one and only Dylan show was also his first-ever performance in the Czech Republic where Dylan, and folk music generally, were wildly popular. There wasn't a dry eye in the house when he sang Blowin' in the Wind. I think that for some people those were practically the only words of English they could speak. A truly sad affair.

This post was modified by snow_and_rain on 2011-04-23 16:56:02

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Poster: olympiaroad Date: Apr 23, 2011 2:18pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

People continue to completely misinterpret not only what Dylan does, but his so-called "message". When you think about it, Dylan has very few "protest songs" that fit the definition people in the news media last week seemed desperate for him to perform in China, (as if he is beholden to deliver their idea of what his "message" is), yet, arguably, he has many, many "protest songs" that most people wouldn't recognize as such. Examples of Dylan's subtle, fluid social commentary: "Tweedle Dee", "High Water", "Levee's Gonna Break", "Gotta Serve Somebody") Pretty much what the pundits thought he owed the world to play boiled down to "Times", "Blowin'" and, for the slightly more knowledgeable Dylan fan, "Chimes of Freedom".

Not to get on my high horse or anything, but simply to display credentials, (if there is such a thing in this context), as someone who, since around 2001 or so has listened to just about every Bob Dylan concert usually a day or so after it has occurred, (thank you tapers and seeders!), I can attest to the fact that "Blowin in the WInd" is not a regular part of the rotation. It has been a semi-regular encore during some recent tours, but is not a guarantee. If I'm not mistaken, in the mid-90's it was somewhat more regularly placed as the encore. "TImes" is an occasional choice from his 60's period and "Chimes" is even rarer.

He will sometimes go years without playing a song and then it will just turn up, ("Lenny Bruce", for instance...also a song containing typical Dylan social commentary against "fools" in government and media last showed up in, I think, 2006 after popping up here and there-i.e., once or twice a year-throughout the "Aughts". Sometimes, he'll flog a song, ("Summer Days") and then it will disappear, (gone for months now). He used to open with "Subterranean" a lot in the late 80's/early 90's. He never does it now.

His shows seem to have a structure in which he opens with a straight-ahead rocker, (last year it was mostly "Rainy Day" and "Leopard Skin". This year it's "Gotta Serve Somebody" and "Change My Way of Thinking". Then, generally you get a "deeper track" 60's or 70's song next: It Ain't me Babe, Senor, I'll be your Baby, Baby Blue, Tom Thumb have all served in this slot over the past couple of years. Lately, there's a (somewhat unwelcome) pattern in which certain songs end up in the same place every night. This tour it's "Tangled up in Blue" in the 3rd or 4th slot, Ballad of a Thin Man as the final song of the set. For the past several years, Highway 61 has come about 2/3 of the way through and Rolling Stone and Watchtower have been the encores with the occasional Blowin or Forever Young tacked on, (not a guarantee). He literally plays stuff from all eras every night. You're as likely to hear "Honest with Me" as you are to hear "Visions of Johanna" Personally, I could use the former a little less and others a little more, but I'll take what the only Bob Dylan we have is willing to serve up. I'm also convinced he is directly responsible for lifting a certain ban in a certain place, so I'm forever grateful for that!

Anyway, China got Forever Young, Taiwan got Blowin' in the Wind. I bet that the anti-Chinese radicals in the Taiwan audience appreciated that, not that the American news media seemed to notice! What else did China get? Let's just focus on Bejiing. Opener was "Change my Way of Thinking and make myself a different set of rules" The third verse begins "Jesus is coming". (China is a vigorously secular state that persecutes certain religious expressions.) "It's all Over Now, Baby Blue" Holy shit! Who's Baby Blue? The Chinese Govt?? No wait, it's still Donovan...; ) Other selections included "Tweedle Dee" (I always read this as having something to do with duplicitous politicians) and...check this out: "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall". Tenth song of the show. Hey wait, isn't that one of those "protest songs???" It's even on one of his pristinely socially conscious "early albums". WTF, American media, Maureen Dowd, et. al!!! Didn't you read the whole setlist???

Folks, with all due respect to the original poster, I've been fuming about this for two weeks. Please forgive the tone. Not only was the wildfire started by bloggers and pundits who were misguided to begin with, (poor Dylan is constantly suffering from people projecting their expectations for what he should be on him), it wasn't even accurate. Maybe the Chinese did make him not play those two songs. There has been about as much proof of that as there has been that the President was born in Africa.

Another poster wondered what would have happened if he had played those songs. Well, quite possibly, the Chinese would have used that against other western artists that wanted to play there or maybe prevented some from playing. I realize this is similar to the logic applied by Google when they wanted to do business with China, so I will add this. The songs he played could be interpreted as extremely pointed "protest" songs, (though significantly more subtle and clever that anyone else's protest songs from the 60's), and during the final song of the set, "Ballad of a Thin Man", the place goes nuts and begins singing along. See the following first hand review for an interpretation of this moment: http://www.boblinks.com/040611r.html

Dylan, too, delivers among the most focused, almost angry versions of this I've ever heard.

Dylan does what he does, which is unique and, for many, an acquired taste. I always find it amusing when people wish he would sing it like the record. He never has, not in the early days either, (Although, I think largely due to the fact that he played less regularly, arrangements at 60's shows were a little closer to the bone. Starting with his touring period (1974 to present), every version is just one in a line of versions that has a life of its own. Kind of like the GD but more of an actual rearrangement, (I guess more like if the GD rearranged every song like FOTD...for one tour, then rearranged them again and again...) The artist who does this says, "this is what I do, take it or leave it. I don't need to do what I did on my first six records that everybody bought 40 years ago...I have evolved." and continues to do what he does for his own reasons without explanation. If that's not "protesting" and having integrity, what is?



This post was modified by olympiaroad on 2011-04-23 21:16:06

This post was modified by olympiaroad on 2011-04-23 21:18:05

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Poster: Jack o' Roses Date: Apr 23, 2011 4:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

right on! Thanks for expressing what I thought about the 'censored setlists' of the PRC.

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Poster: DeadATL Date: Apr 23, 2011 4:50pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

Check out some of the essays here for an interesting take on Dylan:
http://www.cinchreview.com/category/dylan-osophy/

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Poster: olympiaroad Date: Apr 23, 2011 5:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

Wow. Nice essay. Cool site too. I was unfamiliar with it but it is now bookmarked.

The GD also failed to live up to expectations generally. Were they going to do an April Fools joke every time? Nope. Play a super-duper show just because it's simulcast across the country? Nope. They're going to noodle for several minutes, then play Hideaway and then noodle some more. They did Memphis Blues again in Memphis...but no Alabama Getaway in Alabama! (in 95 that is) However, Atlanta got one!

I always considered this one of their many charms.

This post was modified by olympiaroad on 2011-04-24 00:14:22

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Apr 24, 2011 9:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

Wow, what a curious bunch of responses here. I'm really surprised, confused, and disappointed. Yes, I realize that Dylan isn't very political anymore. Yes, I realize that he has many other great songs that also have powerful messages, and that he did play some of those. And that's great. But at the end of the day, the minstry of culture told him not to play certain songs, and instead of saying "fuck you," he saluted. That sucks. Not a big deal? In my opinion it's a very big deal.

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Poster: olympiaroad Date: Apr 25, 2011 8:46am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

DeadATL's post contains a link to an article that questions the basic premise that he was even given a list. That said, based on China's past actions, (The Stones were told to avoid certain songs like "Spend the Night Together" in 2006 and Jagger joked from the stage that all the British expats were saved from being corrupted...or something like that), they probably did give Dylan a short-list of banned tunes.

China has a long and sordid history with western involvement. Don't forget the opium wars. They are all about protecting their sovereignty. That's true of many of the Asian nations generally for the same reason. It's why State Dept. officials know it's probably just going to make matters worse if they complain to Singapore that some idiotic kid is going to get hanged for drug possession. Their judges don't appreciate westerners sticking their noses into it.

I'm not endorsing the totalitarians, mind you, but I will repeat again what I said earlier: look at your shirt, look at your child's toys. If it says "made in China" on it, it's hard to criticize Dylan for not singing songs he rarely sings anyway unless you, yourself are at least fighting the totalitarians by not supporting what they produce.

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Apr 26, 2011 6:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

Buying a Chinese radio is a lot different than letting them censor your setlists. When I buy Chinese products, I don't compromise my artistic integrity. It's the same thing with selling songs to advertisers. Even if he lets Victoria's Secret use a song, he can still play it.

But hey, it's just two songs, right? And he hardly ever plays them anyway (execept of course that he played Blowin in Taiwan). How many songs would it be okay for the Chinese to censor? Three? Ten? At what point does it become unacceptable? What if the US government told him what songs to play? Would that be okay with you?

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Apr 26, 2011 7:19am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

Also, Blowin in the Wind doesn't seem all that rare to me. He's played it over 100 times since 2007.

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Poster: splue Date: Apr 24, 2011 9:45pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to TSA Probe in Toledo

i think olympiaroad has some very good points though...maybe on another day he would have done that; maybe he was doing it for the fans, not the government?

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Apr 24, 2011 8:05am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

Nice post . Too many , especially in the journalistic profession , still think of him as a "protest singer," it's as if the only have heard "his 2nd , and 3rd albums [Freewheeling, and The Times They...). And ignore his output of the past 40 years are so . I do though, think he sometimes goes out of his way to flip the bird to whatever integrity we put upon him. His music in commercials, himself in commercials ( "Victoria's Secret " ). Etc.
It would be like him, to outwardly kao-tow to the Chinese authorities , and then subversively stick it to them, as you suggest , with the songs he did play.

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Poster: olympiaroad Date: Apr 24, 2011 8:35am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

Honestly, I don't think he's interested in sticking it to anybody. By all accounts, he seems to be a quiet, polite, reserved guy. There's only been one book written by a former bandmember, (Winston Watson) and that pretty much stands alone as the only example of someone who's worked with him professionally speaking about the experience. (I haven't read it but I don't believe it's a harsh treatment.)

I have to assume, based on what I know about him, that he went into China as a respectful guest of their country. For him to purposely tweak them in any way would have been out of character.

Incidentally, people who want to "protest" China can easily do it themselves by refusing to purchase cheap-ass, lead-paint containing products from that place. Do you know when you buy fish at your local supermarket that originates from China, it most likely comes from a "fish farm" in someone's front yard? Recent strides toward individual involvement in capitalist activities have caused a rise in rank and file Chinese cultivating shrimp particularly in homemade pools. Shaws buys 'em and sells 'em cheap to the American working class. Working Man's Blues indeed. Yucky.

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Apr 24, 2011 9:11am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

One thing for sure about Dylan is that he defiantly does not want to be put in a box others have made for him . There is this great Rolling Stone interview with him , in the late 60's, in which the interviewers are apoplectic that he is not playing along with the "revolution" ..."How do you know that I'm not FOR the war " . I agree that his nature is rather not to make some sort of "big statement", but I can't believe he is unaware of the nature of the regime, and could not have been too happy to have to submit a set list for approval . So a little sly tweaking, as your examples suggest to me, would not seem too far out of order . BUT, I have given up trying to figure the man out . Anyone I know who has met him, almost to a man, has used the words "weird," "strange," "eccentric ," somewhere in their description of him . I just enjoy, or don't enjoy what he is doing musically . I salute you for still following his live shows, I gave up after seeing him 05 ( Merle Haggard opened for him ) , I have been following him and defending him since the dawn of the 70's, but he just was beyond where I could go, It just didn't make musical sense to me . I have heard that he still can be incredible , so who knows .

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Poster: micah6vs8 Date: Apr 26, 2011 7:32am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

His catalog is so large that he can get whatever particular point he wants to get across. I doubt that many Chinese officials can delve into all his poetry and 'get it'. I don't get it sometimes. But I like it.
It's interesting that he is playing 2 songs from Slow Train Coming, esp. Change My Way of Thinking. Those albums get little attention, but Slow Train is the best among them (Columbia?).

olympiaroad, can you please rec. a few Dylan shows that stand out. Thanks.

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Poster: olympiaroad Date: Apr 26, 2011 9:02am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

Hmm...well, I suppose it depends on what tunes you like to hear. I'm personally crazy about anything from the 99-2002 period. That's when he had Larry Campbell and Charlie Sexton and fairly acoustic arrangements. Each tour features facets that can be celebrated and others that can seem annoying, but then, it depends on your point of view. (The so-called "up-singing" trend during the period I mentioned seemed annoying at the time; now it doesn't seem so jarring.) I like the last tour a lot, particularly b/c they rocked out regularly and Charlie has really come into his own since returning. Part of the enjoyment of the recordings certainly has to do with the taper. "M & A", "Bach", "Schubert" and most recently "Hide" usually record from good locations with excellent devices, (Neumanns or HQ Schoeps...I'm no taper, but I know what I like).

Based on what I've heard so far this tour, I like the1st Hong Kong show the best and the Beijing show starts slow but gets it together by the end to be among my favorites.

If you want to go "old school", email me and if you send me a 4G drive, I'll put a couple of handfuls of good shows on it.

I'm going to call this discussion a draw on my end. To each his own. I will part with this though: Going all the way back to Plato, the poet's role as a functioning member of society who was responsible for his words and actions has been hotly debated. Some would say the poet must advocate; others say he must only observe and comment. The debate goes on. I actually just finished The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell. Many Victorian critics contend that there's a subtext in this famous biography that pits Gaskell's social activism as a writer, (she wrote a famous novel about poor workers called "Mary Barton") vs Bronte's disinterest in pursuing social causes in her works. Nevertheless, her works are often seen as having an element of purpose in terms of social change. Certainly Dylan's work does even if he "ain't marching anymore" to quote a more strident example of a protest singer and Dylan's 60's contemporary, Phil Ochs. Maybe Dylan is not the "friend" to progressive causes that we wish he was, but he's certainly not the enemy.

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Poster: fenario80 Date: Apr 26, 2011 7:22am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

amen!

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Poster: Daddy D Date: Apr 23, 2011 10:02am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

Can't help but wonder what the authorities would have done if Dylan had started playing one of the above mentioned songs regardless of approved set list . . .

Probably just cut the power? But if by some miracle he was able to play them, what then? Can't imagine they would arrest him, what a media s--tstorm that would create!

Would be cool to be able to go back in time & hear what a 25 year old Dylan would have to say to his future self about what he should have done!

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Poster: skuzzlebutt Date: Apr 23, 2011 7:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

Like most 60s leftovers, Dylan is about as "anti-establishment" as fucking McDonalds.

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Poster: shorthopper88 Date: Apr 24, 2011 10:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

I'm not dissapointed with dylan for" submiting to censorship". He's playing to a Chinese audience, good for him.
I really don't know why dylan has been called out on this so much. As if its his job to take a stand on issues like this. If you look back, Dylan has rarely ever taken a stand on anything. I respect Dylan, he's a true musician, not a leader or a protester or anything like that. No bullshit, its about the music.

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Apr 26, 2011 12:00pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

It is absolutely his job to resist censorship of his own work. I would argue that this is his most important job. I don't care if he makes political statements about Chinese dissidents or not. It would be nice if he did, but he's certainly not under any obligation to do so. But the core issue here is that he (allegedly) let the Chinese censor his work - his art. No self-respecting artist should ever submit to censorship. I wonder, if he'd actually made a stink about it, how many of you would be applauding his principled stand.

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Apr 26, 2011 12:40pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Submits to Censorship in China

I'd be applauding if he had, but at the same time, I can understand his inclination to want to play in China and for Chinese fans even though he had to do so subject to some unsettling restrictions. That said, kudos to Bjork for how she handled herself when she performed over there.

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Poster: bluedevil Date: May 13, 2011 8:49pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Dylan Comments on China shows

http://www.bobdylan.com/
May 13
To my fans and followers
Allow me to clarify a couple of things about this so-called China controversy which has been going on for over a year. First of all, we were never denied permission to play in China. This was all drummed up by a Chinese promoter who was trying to get me to come there after playing Japan and Korea. My guess is that the guy printed up tickets and made promises to certain groups without any agreements being made. We had no intention of playing China at that time, and when it didn't happen most likely the promoter had to save face by issuing statements that the Chinese Ministry had refused permission for me to play there to get himself off the hook. If anybody had bothered to check with the Chinese authorities, it would have been clear that the Chinese authorities were unaware of the whole thing.

We did go there this year under a different promoter. According to Mojo magazine the concerts were attended mostly by ex-pats and there were a lot of empty seats. Not true. If anybody wants to check with any of the concert-goers they will see that it was mostly Chinese young people that came. Very few ex-pats if any. The ex-pats were mostly in Hong Kong not Beijing. Out of 13,000 seats we sold about 12,000 of them, and the rest of the tickets were given away to orphanages. The Chinese press did tout me as a sixties icon, however, and posted my picture all over the place with Joan Baez, Che Guevara, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. The concert attendees probably wouldn't have known about any of those people. Regardless, they responded enthusiastically to the songs on my last 4 or 5 records. Ask anyone who was there. They were young and my feeling was that they wouldn't have known my early songs anyway.

As far as censorship goes, the Chinese government had asked for the names of the songs that I would be playing. There's no logical answer to that, so we sent them the set lists from the previous 3 months. If there were any songs, verses or lines censored, nobody ever told me about it and we played all the songs that we intended to play.

Everybody knows by now that there's a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future. So I'm encouraging anybody who's ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them.

[just read Chronicles: Volume 1 - GREAT book.]